Any suggestions for dealing with illegal telemarketing robocalls?

alphacatFebruary 23, 2009

I am on the federal do-not-call list. I live in New Jersey, where automated telemarketing calls are illegal. Nevertheless, I am getting several automated telemarketing calls per week. These calls come in two forms:

1) "Don't be alarmed but we have an urgent message for you about your current credit-card account. There is no problem with your card, but we want to inform you that this is your last opportunity to reduce the interest rate on your current card..."

2) "We have made several attempts to reach you about the warranty on your vehicle..."

I do not have caller ID, but if I did, I am confident that the phone numbers would be blocked or forged. My wife tried once to obtain the company name on one of these calls; all she was able to get was "Credit card services." Something tells me that's not a real company name.

The FTC says that in order to file a complaint, you need company name and phone number as well as date and time.

Any suggestions for getting rid of these clowns? Asking them to put me on their no-call list is unlikely to work because they are already ignoring the federal no-call list.

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Go through the recorded message, punch the number to speak with a person, get the info about the company, where they are located and the person's name and phone number. Then call your attorney general, get a complaint form (xerox copies for future use) and file it with the state. I've done that a few times - yes, it'a a hassle, but the offender at least gets the threatening letter which they HAVE to respond to. My AG sent me copies of all correspondence back from the offender and they have gone away.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 12:58PM
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It's pretty easy to file a complaint online. I have done it several times.

Here is a link that might be useful: Filing a National Do Not Call List complaint

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 3:35PM
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You can also hit the # and 0, if that doesn't work hit # 9, 8 and so of them will interupt the call. Sometimes it will cause the machine to stop calling any more numbers that day. At least it will be your revenge.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 8:27PM
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I've tried speaking with a person. What I got is that the company's name (in this particular case) was "Credit Card Services," and they would give me neither a person's name nor a phone number. Basically, if I don't want to buy whatever they're selling, they'll just call me back again later.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 9:52PM
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I keep an airhorn and some ear plugs next to the phone. Works like a charm. Foul language when dealing with a rep works great also. Revenge is sweet. When I say "leave me alone" I mean it. People only take advantage of you if you let them. Its not fun being a jerk but some people need to learn their life lessons the hard way.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 11:01AM
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Question 28 on the Q&A linked below:

"If I register my number on the National Do Not Call Registry, will it stop all telemarketing calls?

No. Placing your number on the National Do Not Call Registry will stop most telemarketing calls, but not all. Because of limitations in the jurisdiction of the FTC and FCC, calls from or on behalf of political organizations, charities, and telephone surveyors would still be permitted, as would calls from companies with which you have an existing business relationship, or those to whom youÂve provided express agreement in writing to receive their calls. "

That's from the Federal Do Not Call list. I do not know if the states' have more restrictive regulations.

Here is a link that might be useful: Q&A National Do Not Call Registry

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 11:47AM
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Here's a link to New Jersey Do Not Call Fact Sheet. At the bottom of the link is the following information:

New JerseyÂs 'Do Not Call' law will stop most, but not all, telemarketing calls.

You may still receive calls from individuals if:

theyÂre calling on behalf of charities, political organizations or pollsters (Please note: You may ask third-party professional fund-raisers who call on behalf of charities to stop calling you and to tell the charity to put you on the charity-specific 'no-call' list. The fund-raiser must honor your request);

youÂve given the company written permission to call you;

youÂre an 'existing customer' (someone who bought merchandise on credit or has a written contractual obligation with a seller); or

youÂre an 'established customer' for whom a seller has previously provided continuing services where the relationship has not been terminated and the telemarkerterÂs call is limited to the service that is being provided. (However, the telemarketer canÂt 'up-sell' or try to offer a new or enhanced service to the customer).

I hope this helps.

Here is a link that might be useful: New Jersey's Do Not Call Fact Sheet

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 11:52AM
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I don't see how an airhorn will stop computer generated calls.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 5:06PM
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I had the same problem and kept calling them back, being very sweet ... and finally got to a supervisor.

There was also some where that I could report the telephone number that they left, but I forget where that was.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 1:21PM
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I am having the same problem with calls from two numbers. They are recorded calls with the option to push 2 and i would be removed from their list. That didn't work so I pushed 1 to speak to the person and asked for a supervisor and got hung up on. I redialed their number and got a recording that said many companies call through this number and it's impossible to know which company called me. I did file a complaint. I think it is a new way to get around the no call list.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 6:12PM
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I got calls from that company as well. This is what I did.

I got a human and told them I was interested in what they were offering. They asked me for information about my credit cards. I told them I had to go find it.

I put the phone down.

I did some chores.

I would pick up the phone now and then and tell them I was still looking.

Then I made up an answer. They asked the next question.

I went through the whole thing again.

The puppy peed on the rug, can you hold while I clean it up? I'm so sorry.. Have to get the door, can you hold? Have to find that information, can you hold on while I look?

They hung up after about 1 hour.

Why did I do this? I feel I performed a public service - as long as they were on hold waiting for me, they weren't bothering someone else.

When they call again, I will do the same. And if they don't like it, they can stop calling me.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 9:04PM
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I get calls from the same two--most likely they are the same company, and they are just ignoring the law. I have tried pressing 2 to be removed from their calling list, I have spoken to a live person, (usually they just hang up once they hear I'm not taking the bait), I have filed complaints with the FTC. And after at least 2 years, I still get their calls regularly.

The sad (and scary) thing is, they must get enough suckers to bite, or they wouldn't be still in business.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 9:34PM
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I'm in Canada and we have a do not call registry, I've been out of work a couple of months and am shocked (after living in Australia for many years) how many telemarketing calls I get, several a day. I did sign up to the do not call registry here a week ago and to my amazement, no calls - I'm sure it's too early yet for that to take effect.

I have to admit I hung up on someone doing a preamble for what would eventuate into a disguised sales visit for filter queen vacuum cleaners. I won't abuse people for doing what's a horrible job, cold calling.

I worked in a call centre, doing tech support not sales but have to say how nasty some people can be, and that's when you're trying to help them. Then they're shocked we don't know offhand who the president of cable company B is- because we work for a call centre - in the era of outsourcing. Despite what you might see in the tv commercials, Ted Turner's successor is not three cubicles down. The head of the call centre I worked in made a paltry $60-$70k as I understood it, for being in charge of over a thousand agents, and being on the receiving end of a lot of heat from both ends - agents and clients.

Being a sales monkey is even worse, true, these people could find other jobs - sometimes, a lot of the people who were long timers have disabilities and the company was kind of sort of good and accommodating, so they were kind of stuck there. Other longtimers have families and are by endurance on a better pay rate and get health benefits and are also trapped there.

I wouldn't say some call centre agents aren't the nicest, most polite people but getting an air horn in the ear is not fair to anyone. As it is, many of us were noticing what appears to be some hearing loss in our preferred headset ear, and we certainly weren't getting paid enough to warrant hearing loss.

Like I say, you may not like getting the calls but it's no excuse to be nasty. Caller id will help weed them out, or you can listen for the pause- if there's a pause it's probably an automated system. Just hang up if you must.

It's good for the handle time, they usually want to limit us to just a few minutes. I feel sorry for the person who was kept on for an hour for someone's amusement (although I can laugh at those stories too) - if they're someone hanging on by their fingernails, consider they were pretty polite to not hang up, and they might get carpeted for letting the call drag on that long.

In short, walk a mile in their shoes first.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 2:39AM
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My grandson made $1,500 a month doing telemarketing. Didn't know anyone could do that. He was fresh out of high school.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 3:42PM
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I used to get annoyed with these calls. Now I have fun with them. Examples:
1. When a person comes on, speak to them in a foreign language if you know one; if not, concoct one on the fly.
2. When a person comes on and asks for whoever, tell them just a moment, you'll get him/her. Then, just put the phone down without hanging up. You'll be amazed how long they'll wait. Try to contain your laughter. Don't mute, or they will think you hung up. Works best if there is noise in the background.
3. When they ask for whoever, say that he/she will be back in 15 to 20...years. (It's advisable, however, to make sure it is just a cold call, and not from your actual creditor!)
4. Pretend to be mentally impaired.
5. State that you've been drinking heavily. (In many places you can't legally enter a contract while drunk.)
6. State that you're hearing impaired and keep asking them to speak louder.
7. Act like you cannot hear them at all. "Hello? Hello??"
8. When you finally get sick of their calls, politely but firmly instruct them that you do not want any more calls from them.
9. In the unlikely case they are selling a product or service you're actually interested in, bargain with them. I have successfully done this with magazine renewals. Just watch out who you give your credit card number to!

Again, use good sense and be absolutely sure it is a BS call!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 12:18PM
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I have worked in telemarketing. I worked in a call center cold calling to set up appointments for a well-known company to sell home improvement products. I also worked in a call center conducting marketing research. Some are run well, some aren't. However, this was before the Do Not Call Registry.

Now there is a Do Not Call Registry. It was established to protect consumers. Companies have to comply, it's the law. In addition, this company engages in caller ID spoofing - transmitting a phone number to the consumer's caller ID that is not theirs. This makes it impossible for the consumer to file a complaint with the FTC.

In addition, I have spoken with this company when they called, was very polite and asked for their name and phone number and was never provided the correct information, again making it impossible for me to report them to the FTC.

So not only are the breaking the law, they are hiding. In addition, the employees have chosen to work for a company engaged in bad and illegal business practices. What they are doing is wrong.

Since they are ignoring the law and calling me even though I am on the Do Not Call Registry and not providing me their correct contact information, I have no sympathy for them.

I do not choose to walk in the shoes of someone engaged in illegal business practices. As I said before, if they don't like it and calling me is a waste of their time, then they should comply with the law and stop calling me.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 11:40AM
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I've had jobs in my past that most people would not do and I could always find something that didn't involve tricking people into buying something they didn't want or need.

There are people out there that are good at sales, they know when to move on to the next potential customer and quit wasting precious time. They usually get the message when I tell them that I am not interested. I don't airhorn anyone off the fly, nor do I do any of the above mentioned tricks on the first ring. While they ask their lead in questions, I speak on top of them and clearly state that I do not buy anything over the phone and that I am not interested in anything they have to say. And please remove me from your call list. This is when they decide whether or not the "conversation" becomes ugly. If they continue to talk to me I blast them or lay the phone down or any number of mean spirited tricks. If it is the robo call I press the button to get a salesman and then give them the speach and then procede as before if they keep trying to pressure me into some sort of sale. Under normal conditions the salesperson gives up on me the minute they realize that I am not listening to them as I keep talking on top of what they are trying to say. Its all about control. If you call my phone in my house then I am in control. If I tell you to leave me alone, I mean it. If you push it further I take it to the next level. I am normally a nice guy. People that have witnessed my rudeness in these situations were not impressed. But all I can say is that I have been treated badly in the past and vowed that it would never happen again. So far, no criminal record and no unwarranted charges on my credit cards.

Oh, and I'm much worse to church people coming up to my front door! I only ask them to leave once and they always do. You have to say things like you mean business.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 1:42PM
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I don't carry any credit card debt yet rarely a day goes by that I don't have a voice mail from some urgent voice telling me it's my last chance to get out from under and consolodate my credit card debts. I can tell by the caller ID that they come from different phone numbers. Seldom do I see the same number twice. It doesn't matter that I'm not on the don't call list. They still call.

Right up there with the credit card fixers are the auto warranty sellers. This is your last chance!!! If I had a nickel for every last chance I passed up I could retire! My car is seventeen years old (don't laugh, I don't carry any debt besides my mortgage which is almost paid). When I got a live call I waited on the line and told them I'd be very interested in getting the extended warranty on my car since it was 17 years old and sure to need a repair any time now. Guess what, they didn't want my business!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 5:08PM
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pjb999 suggests that before criticizing telemarketers, you should first walk a mile in their shoes.

On reflection, that might not be a bad idea. That way, when you do criticize them, you'll be a mile away -- and you'll have their shoes.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 6:11PM
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